Peer evaluation is dependent on a large variety of factors, thus for those unfamiliar it is often difficult to implement. It is important to keep in mind that the process involves numerous stages of trial and error to test which methods work best in your classroom setting.
However, peer evaluation does not have to be a tedious process. By ensuring that students are both prepared and involved in the process, peer evaluation can be successful in creating a community learning environment.
1. Setting early expectations
It is important for students to understand from early in the course exactly how peer evaluation is going to be conducted. It is particularly important to be clear on the frequency, the weight and the assessment criteria of the peer evaluation so that there are no surprises for students during the term. This helps with student buy-in and prevents experiencing a push-back from them.
2. Involving your students in designing the Peer Evaluation
Consider co-creating the peer evaluation process with your students by involving them in the decision of the weighting, frequency, and criteria. Involving your students increases student buy-in.
Although you should strive to keep your students involved, they also need some guidance. According to Larry Michaelsen, one thing to consider when deciding on the weight to put on peer evaluation is that it should be enough to encourage students to take the whole process seriously. Thus, it should be able to tangibly affect the students’ grades. As Jim Sibley, author of “Getting Started with Team-Based Learning” says, “It should have teeth!”.
3. Conducting periodic formative assessments
A formative assessment differs from a summative one in that the former’s goal is to inform the instructor about student performance during the course so that student learning can be improved as it happens. On the other hand, summative assessments are used to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional period.
Conducting periodic formative peer evaluations prior to a summative assessment has a couple of benefits.
It helps students develop the skill of providing feedback.
It enables students to understand what their weak spots are at a time when they can still take actions to improve on them.
4. Preparing students for providing and receiving feedback
Do not assume that students have previous experience with peer evaluation. Provide them with resources that teach them how to give and receive feedback.
“Making feedback helpful” by Larry Michaelsen is a commonly used resource for teaching students how to give feedback.
It’s key to foster an environment of trust, professionalism and minimal competition to encourage the provision of honest and useful feedback.
Let’s recap the best practices:
Set early expectations to increase the chances of student buy-in.
Involve your students in designing the peer evaluation to increase engagement during the process.
Conduct periodic formative assessments to give students the chance of improving on their weaknesses before the end of the term.
Prepare students for providing and receiving feedback so that they can fully exploit the benefits of peer evaluation.
Now that you know about the various best practices for conducting a successful peer evaluation, further your knowledge by learning about the Pros & Cons Of the 4 Peer Evaluation Methods!
1. Cestone, C.M., Levine, R.E. and Lane, D.R., 2008. Peer assessment and evaluation in team‐based learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2008(116), pp.69-78. 2. Michaelsen, L.K. and Schultheiss, E.E., 1989. Making feedback helpful. Organizational Behavior Teaching Review, 13(1), pp.109-113.